Monday, March 31, 2014

Links to Love

1. I'm not quite sure what it is, but I could just watch this video of a baby's first bath over and over again.  It's so slow, gentle, and respectful. I love how relaxed this sweet little baby is... and it also makes me miss those teeny tiny newborn days (is it crazy that I'm already feeling nostalgic about how big my ten week old is getting?) (mind you, it's because he's HUGE).

2. This could have been written by me: The Best of Times, the Worst of Times: The Equinox of Raising Children.  Some days are so, so amazing: rewarding, uplifting.  And some days I go to bed in tears because I'm absolutely sure I'm totally screwing up these two little lives entrusted to me.  It's so good to know that I'm not the only one who feels this way.

3. This is an amazing story of a woman who was told her autistic son would never be able to talk or communicate in any way.  Through allowing him to play and nurturing his interests, he's now on track to win the Nobel Prize in theoretical physics at age 15.  My favorite part: "Instead of focusing on Jacob’s limitations, Kristine nurtured his interests."  Such a great reminder for me to pay attention to Cole's interests and strengths, not just focus on his weaknesses.

4. An interesting story.  What do you think?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Cole as a Big Bro

I was pretty anxious about how well Cole would do adjusting to life with a baby brother. His life as he knew it was about to be turned upside down - and sharing his Mama's attention has never been one of his strong suits. 

So I tried to slowly prepare Cole early on for some of the upcoming changes.  Chris started taking over some of "my" usual duties with Cole - bathtime, bedtime routines, etc.  I talked to him a lot about how I wouldn't be able to spend quite as much time with him as usual (not a huge transition, since Cole usually plays independently anyway).  We also made a conscious effort to teach Cole how to independently do a lot of the things he often asked us to do: change his clothes, wipe his bum, brush his teeth, get a snack.  All of these things together helped make the transition easier on the both of us.

Lastly, I made sure that Cole did (and still does) know that it's ok to not be fully happy about being a big brother.  It's a huge change, one that he had absolutely no say in, and I think it's vitally important for kids to know that they are allowed to feel all their complex feelings and still know that we love them, no matter what.  I'm always upfront with him about Chase - "Sometimes it's really frustrating to listen to him cry really loud like that, isn't it?  I wish he would feel better too."  "Having Chase was a really big change, wasn't it? How do you feel about it?"

Fortunately, so far the transition has been far easier than I anticipated.  I try hard to give Cole plenty of attention when it's feasible (lots of reading books while I'm nursing Chase) to fill up his attention-tank to make up for the times I'm needing to tend to Chase.  Plus, it's been hugely helpful having Chris around to give him tons of one on one time.

Cole simply adores his baby brother, asking to hold him constantly and always, ALWAYS willing to stop whatever he's doing to give him his bink, or change his diaper, or cover him with a blanket. 

I'm hopeful that this means they will have a life-long friendship with each other.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

30 Before 30

Last week was my birthday.

I turned 29 this year - for reals, for the first time, no fakeys. 

 Which got me to thinking - I've heard of other bloggers doing a 30 before 30 list, a sort of bucket list of things to get accomplished before they turn 30.

And you know me, I never met a list I didn't like.

So, here it is: my 30 things to do before I turn the big 3-0:

1. Try a new restaurant.
2. Play piano more often.
3. Spend a day wine tasting.  A whole day, preferably with a chauffeur.
4. Go to an amusement park and ride the heck out of some roller coaster with my hubby...with JUST my hubby, no kids allowed!  We've been wanting to do this for a few summers now, but I keep getting pregnant. 
5. Take our kids to Wildlife Safari.
6. Paint our living room bookcases.
7. Spend a night gambling at a casino with the hubs.  I can't wait to see him at the high-stakes (or maybe not so high stakes) poker table.
8. Less cellphone time, be more present when I'm with my family.
9. Run a 5K.
10. Go to Hawaii!
11. Take my camera off of "Auto" mode more often.
12. Get up on the wakeboard.
13. Add chair rail and paint our dining room.
14. Explore adoption options.
15. Go rafting down the Rogue River.
16. Host a game night with friends.
17. Go fishing and catch a fish.
18. Paint master bedroom.
19. Enroll Cole in preschool.
20. Add front landscaping at our house.
21. Reread "Game of Thrones" series.
22. Figure out how to download audio books and ebooks from our local library.
23. Go golfing with Chris. (He loves to golf).
24. Go to IKEA.
25. Find a day trip to somewhere new.
26. Take our kids camping.
27. See the Redwoods in California.
28. Get family photos taken again.
29. Ride on Chris' motorcycle.
30. MAYBE get a tattoo.

We'll see - maybe I'll get them all accomplished before next year!

Friday, March 28, 2014

My Three Boys

These boys are my favorite:

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Happy Homeowners

This past weekend was gorgeous weather, so we decided to tackle a couple of outdoor homeowner projects we've been meaning to get to.

First up: this little patch of sorta landscaping in front of our house. It's been pretty empty and pathetic since we moved in, so after much discussion we chose our plants and had a lovely time as a family planting everything:

Cole loved finding worms;

Dirty hands! He was actually a huge help.

Finished product: 

Much better! I love having a beautiful home to invest in!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

nursing babe

Last week when we visited Daffodil Hill, Chris snapped this photo of me nursing Chase. I don't have any pictures of Cole nursing, so this one is super precious.

Let's face it, breastfeeding is not easy. It can be painful in many ways. It's so tricky to know if there's an oversupply or not enough milk. Allergies, reflux. Being the sole person with the burden of waking frequently during the night. Not being able to leave your babe for more than two hours, ever. It can be physically and emotionally demanding and incredibly difficult.

But this photo reminds me how amazing and precious this is, to be able to give my child life and perfect nutrition, not only during pregnancy but afterward as well. I've said it before and I'll say it again, every single time I nurse Chase, I'm so very grateful to be able to breastfeed. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Chase, Eight Weeks

Chase at eight weeks:

-He's the cutest little old man baby ever, receding hairline and everything.

-LOVES to be held.  ALL THE TIME.  No seriously, you just THINK I mean all the time, and in your head you are saying, a few hours a day, yeah right... NOPE.  We are taking babywearing to a new level over here, peeps.  The worst part of it is that he is a tricky little fellow.  He'll be fast asleep in the moby wrap, so I'll ever so carefully and slowly put him down into his swing... he'll stay asleep... I'll do a few silent HUZZAH!s and cartwheels... but then, exactly three minutes later (juuuust long enough to either get started on a project or fall asleep), he's up and ready to go.  I'm certain it will get better (it really can't get worse...), so we just have to wait it out.

-Is such a happy little guy.  He's full of smiles and coos already - it's the sweetest thing to be able to sit and "talk" to him after a nice nurse.

-Does NOT like to sleep.  Apparently Chris and I are doomed to have babies that are terrible sleepers.  I'm thrilled about this.

-Adores being outside, windows, ceiling fans, and the light fixtures on our ceilings. 

-He is a CHUNK.  Chubby.  Roll-y.  Solid.  He's in the 95 percentile for weight! Obviously breastfeeding is going well!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Daffodil Hill

Last year, I took a photography class and while we were discussing photo shoot locations, a place called "Daffodil Hill" popped up.  It sounds amazing, right?  So after googling it and discovering its location, we picked a gorgeous afternoon last week and set off to picnic among the daffodils.

Well... it ended up being sort of a bust.

When you think of "Daffodil Hill", you think of a beautiful hilly meadow covered in millions of daffodils, right?  Well, "Daffodil Hill" is more of a journey than a destination - it was a two or three mile stretch of road with daffodils sprinkled along the side of the road.  Millions? Yes.  But over two or three miles... it honestly wasn't too impressive.  And most of the daffodils were on the side of the road on private property, so we couldn't exactly stop and hang out.

But, oh well.  We reached the top of the hill (which was beautiful with scrub oak trees and view of a valley) that had a whopping ONE daffodil plant, threw down our blanket, and picnicked with determination to enjoy it even if it wasn't exactly what we had been expecting.
(Silly camera boy is such a ham)
And Cole?  Totally did not know the difference.  He loves being outside, he loves adventures, and all he needed was a bit of food and a bit of exploring and he was having the time of his life.

(Chase didn't know the difference either)
It was such a great lesson.  Even if things don't work out the way I expect (or hope) them to, we can still have a great time as a family.

 Chris brought his binoculars.  You would have thought it was Christmas, Cole was so excited.  He LOVED them.
 'Da boys:
 And, of course, the ONE daffodil picture in the ONE daffodil plant:

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Question of Schooling

Chris and I have been talking a lot lately about Cole and his education.  Private school? Public school? Home school? Unschooling? Charter school?  There are a plethora of options out there for Cole's education - and I believe it is one of the most important decisions we will ever make while raising our children.

Here's the thing.  I was a public school teacher.  I believe in public school teachers - they are awesome, dedicated, loving, and amazing.  In the five years I worked in various public schools, I met only a couple of teachers that were lower quality. 

BUT - and it's a big but - I don't believe in our education system.  I hate it.  I think our current system sets kids up for failure.  No Child Left Behind was the worst thing to happen to education in years.  Here's some of my reasons:

1.  Standardized tests.  UGH.  What an awful way to measure intelligence.  Not individual growth, but pure black and white facts that all children are measured the exact way.  But not all children ARE going to have the exact intelligence.  Children's brains are fully formed by the time they are 5 years old - which is the age public schools get the kids.  During those first five years, if kids are exposed to nothing but television and video games, their poor neural pathways are already wired to expect that level of entertainment and no work. 

2.  Because of NCLB, schools are losing huge amounts of federal funding.  The only way they can get that funding back? Teach to the test.  Teach children to regurgitate answers.  Take away recess, art, music, PE to increase classroom time to force more "learning" down the kids' throats.  Creative learning and thinking is out, because it takes more time to teach (without prep time teachers used to have during those recess, art, music, and PE times, they have much less preparation time to prepare excellent lessons).____

Also a result of less funding?  Less money for field trips, learning programs, and materials.  The old argument of how schools keep asking for more and more money is accurate; however, new technology that we must expose to kids to like computers and smartboards take more funding than they did 20 years ago. 

3.  Our whole way of teaching kids is skewed.  "Sit down and shut up" seems to be the prevalent way of teaching - and it's totally not how kids learn best.  Kids learn by being noisy, working together, hands-on messy and fun activities, not by listening quietly to a teacher teach. 

4.  Not to brag, but Cole is extremely intelligent.  However, that doesn't matter.  Yup, you heard me... he can be as bright as the day is long and it DOESN'T MATTER.  What DOES matter?  Creative thinking.  The ability to ask the right questions, to experiment, to keep trying.  No one is going to figure out how to cure cancer by regurgitating memorized answers onto a standardized test.  The person who succeeds in creating those new, inventive, important ideas is the one who is taught from an early age to be a scientist, to explore and question and experiment.

Can I encourage this behavior outside of school?  Of course.  And the old argument against paying for private school is "how much enrichment outside of school could that money buy?".  But if Cole is in school for eight hours a day learning to NOT question the teacher, to memorize instead of learn, to take a standardized test instead of experiment, it doesn't matter how much money I spend for the rest of his waking hours... he will be learning the WRONG way to learn.  Schools are sucking the joy of learning right out of students and if Cole is in public school, there's nothing that can counteract that effect.

I have always loved to learn.  So far, Cole loves to learn as well.  I desperately want him to keep that love of learning for his entire life, because learning = success. 

So what to do?

Fortunately, we have several amazing school options, one of which we just visited last week: Madrone Trail Public Charter School, our local Waldorf charter school.  I attended a magnet school that was semi-Waldorf for a couple of years in elementary school, and it was the most amazing educational experience of my life.  There's a private Waldorf school that is also amazing in our nearby town of Ashland.  And, of course, there's always the option of homeschooling or unschooling, neither of which are my favorite options but are still on the table.

Tell me, how do you feel about your child's education?  What's your opinion on the best way to educate?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Selfies with Baby Chase!


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